Sam Brownback and Me

Campaigns recently came to an end for Sam Brownback, and for me. Mine may or may not have been triumphant, pending final results, while his was disappointing. Nevertheless, I learned a lot about the process from this experience.

First I want to say that I think that Sam Brownback is a decent, honorable, genuine human being. He has served the people of Kansas well, and could be their next Governor in 2010. He simply had no shot at being President. He did the right thing by dropping out.

He had every right to run. Yet the socialistic notion that all candidates deserve equal face time doesn’t wash. A person has to establish credibility first, and then they get the face time and the money. Sam Brownback came across as rigid. Even though he preached optimism, he sounded bland, if not dour. Even if the social conservatives were enough to win the nomination alone, which they are not, they simply felt other candidates were better. Unlike some people, who refuse to get off the stage, Sam Brownback showed class by accepting the results and leaving the race with dignity.

I have been thinking about this since I have been competing in the Bloggers Choice Awards.

I went to bed last night knowing that I was in the top 3, with the votes to be announced on November 10th in Las Vegas. Yet when I woke up this afternoon at 1:30pm (what a nice way to start the day), I noticed that the Daily Kossacks had a few more votes added to their total. The rules clearly stated the contest ended Friday, October 19th, at 11:55pm. Are we really at the point in society where possible controversy can erupt in a blogging competition for crying out loud?

If anybody still wants to vote for me, they can, but I am done campaigning. It is draining. When Sam Brownback dropped out, he got the ability to do something that the candidates still in the race have trouble doing…spend more time with their families. Mr. Brownback is a family man, and I suspect he would rather be with them in Kansas then touring around the country on a quixotic journey.

I say this because I entered the blogosphere on March 11th, 2007. I have only been doing this 7 months. I never wanted to blog. I am technologically incompetent. I got dragged into it by a hot, Jewish republican woman who told me I had to do it. I would rather she tell me I had to do…well, that can wait for another column. I do want to treat her like a ketchup bottle, but she hammered me in a car and told me I had a message and style worth spreading.

I sat down, over the next few days and had to figure out several things. I was not going to do this half-baked. Several questions needed to be asked.

First of all, would I enjoy doing this? I came to the conclusion that I would, and it has been a joy, The minute I will stop enjoying it I will cease doing it.

Secondly, what was the purpose of my entry into the blogosphere? What was my cause? I did not want to just have an online diary where I told people, “Today I had a piece of toast. It was delicious. I went with margarine instead of butter.” If I wanted to bore people with nonsense, I could spend time with family and friends, who tolerate me up to a certain generous point. It turned out that I did have one cause that I wanted to talk about, that being “ideological bigotry.” There is a hatred of people in this country just for being conservatives, or republicans, or religious in any way. I felt ideological bigotry was as poisonous as any other kind of hatred, and I wanted to try and stop it wherever I witnessed it. I was especially interested in ideological bigotry in my own Jewish community.

Third, I had to figure out a way to say the same things everybody else was saying, but in a different way. I figured my seriousness of purpose mixed with warped humor, with a splash of occasional inappropriate sexual commentary unbecoming a republican, would lead to a spicy column. However, my main thrust was that I was going to raise the level of discourse. I would be hard hitting against liberalism, but I would not take cheap shots against human beings. My disagreements would be political, and not personal.

The fourth goal would be to see if this could turn from a hobby into a successful business. I promised myself I would give it one year, and after one year, I would see where I was. I would either solicit advertisers, or fold the operation completely. Then I began blogging.

I would excitedly look at my counter, and notice that one day I had 12 hits, but another day I had 15 hits. Heck, one day I even cracked 20 hits. Yet as much as I felt confidence in my writing, I was not a salesperson. I was not a marketer. I had to do the one thing I hate doing, which is shouting to the world, “Hey, notice me.” As a WordPress guy, I contacted other political blogs on WordPress and asked them to notice what I wrote.

Then one of my friends suggested I start posting my columns on RealClearPolitics. I read that site every day, but did not know there was a place for bloggers.

One day a blogger named Snooper read some of my stuff and liked it, and asked if he could do a “pingback,” or “trackback.” I had no idea what he meant, but he explained that he wanted to put my words on his site, with a link to me to make sure I got proper credit. Other bloggers such as Spree, Blandly Urbane and the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler noticed my stuff. I began to attract notice around politically conservative circles that I was a common sense conservative republican who wrote well.

Yet while that increased my readership, the next decision made an even bigger difference. I decided that I would embrace people who fiercely disagreed with me and encourage them to visit my site. They were not allowed to use profanity or engage in hate speech, but disagreeing with every word I said was within bounds. The point is I encouraged dialogue. I wanted to raise the level of discourse. For the sake of honesty, talking only among people who agree with me is not only boring, but it allows my razor sharp intellectual edges to go dull. Debate is healthy. Little by little, word spread among liberals that while I was definitely not balanced (heck my guidance counselor said I was unbalanced), I was fair. My site was the politically conservative republican site where liberal democrats could visit and be treated respectfully (at least by me, I give my commenters wide latitude).

I started getting over 200 hits per day within a couple months, and a friend of mine told me about a conservative blogging site called Townhall. I somehow managed to have one of my smart-aleck remarks published on their front page for three weeks. I then also set up a  blogspot site so that Google through Technorati would bring me up on searches.

Yet the real change came when I heard about the Bloggers Choice Awards. I decided to enter in the political category, and told myself I would only actively pursue it if I could win. I had no desire to waste time and energy.

I am not a campaigner. Asking people to vote for me is demeaning. I am just not a salesman. Yet I had enough support to make it into the top 20. Others knew about the contest months before I did. So for three months, I went full bore and asked people to vote for me.

Some would argue that winning this would just be a popularity contest, and was meaningless since there was not monetary prize. To me this is nonsense. The Iowa Straw Poll is the same thing, and some candidates even pay people $25 per person to vote for them. Also, like the Iowa Straw Poll, some famous bloggers did not actively solicit votes like I did. I was competing against people like Michelle Malkin, Arianna Huffington and the Daily Kos. They could snap their fingers and have more votes than me, so even if I beat them, they did not try to win.

This is false. In the last few days of the competition, people at the Daily Kos saw a spike in their votes. They were competing.

Ann Coulter’s people told me that putting a link to my blog was against the rules. Michelle Malkin’s site was much friendlier.

It is one thing to contact people and ask them to look at my blog. It is another to ask them to vote for me. Townhall people were supportive, and so were many on WordPress. Yet in the last month of the contest, I actually got banned from contacting people on the website Stumbleupon because three people complained I was a spammer. So what? I was polite, friendly, and yes, I was soliciting them to vote for me. A bunch of people liked me, and now I cannot even return their friendly messages. Oh well.

In the last few days, I even went on two sites I swore I would never go on…Facebook and MySpace. I was told anyone over 30 on those sites was a sexual predator, but I had an election to win. Facebook sent me a warning to slow down my contacting of people. MySpace was more lenient.

The Grizzly Groundswell Governors helped me out significantly during the final push, as did others. Pastor Ed Boston was very helpful.

I also changed my strategy from “vote for me,” to “vote for me and help me crush the Daily Kossacks.” I am sure I accidentally contacted a few liberals who then voted for Kos…oh well. Nevertheless, one day before the contest “ended,” I had surpassed the Kossacks. Whether I finish 1, 2 or 3, the Kossacks got knocked down to fourth. Thank you to all who helped!

Everything, however, comes at a price. As a single Jewish man, I have neglected Jdate lately. My recent trips to Atlanta and elsehwere had no romance because I was busy chasing votes instead of women. My goal in life is to impregnate a Jewish republican brunette, and putting that on hold at my age is not wise. In fact, the last two days there were plenty of social events, and instead I chose to stay home and solicit votes by telephone and email. For two days this is ok, but it will not become my way of life. I skipped a political forum Thursday night, a softball game Friday night, and several invitations to Temple that would have been so much fun.

I still have so much to learn. There are actually two different blogging conventions in Las Vegas back to back in the same convention center. One on November 8th and 9th will be led by Blog Expo and Media World, and Hugh Hewitt will be there. Yet the Bloggers Choice Awards is through PostieCon, and that will be November 10th. I might have to skip the first one. Yes, Mary Katharine Ham will be there, but no, even that is not enough to get me to miss two days off of work. I have only two vacation days left, and I want to see my parents in December. I might go to the second one.

After November 10th, win or lose in this contest, I have two more thing to figure out blogwise.  First, do I want to compete in the blogging competition again? I do not know. It starts the day after this one ends. I refuse to be a year round campaigner. I want my social life back. Some people begin running for president the day after a presidential election. That is not me. I will campaign four months, and that is it.

Secondly, and more importantly, can I charge advertisers? I have no idea how to do it. This conference will teach me. I was going to wait a year, but after 7 months, it is time to find out what my role, if any, in the blogosphere, awaits me.

I doubt I will disappear completely, since as I said, I enjoy it. I have made some wonderful friends. However, I have friends in real life, and I am looking forward to coming up for air today and seeing them.

Whether or not I won this contest, I will still have them. I will also feel more ocmfortable around them knowing I do not have to ask them for anything, even if they are happy to help me.

My obligations are to myself. My main obligation is to keep my integrity, and that includes the integrity of my column. Winning a  blogging award is meaningless if the quality of my writing slides.

So on November 10th, either, or me will be the 2007 Best Political blog at the Bloggers Choice Awards. I hope they are there, so I can get to know them. They were worthy competition, and if either of them win, I will have a hearty congratulatory handshake for them. I personally would prefer somebody that is already not a household name like Huffington or Kos win. New talent needs to be discovered to keep old talent from getting stale.

If I do not win, I am still proud of what I accomplished in the last seven months. Now I can go back to increasing my readership. If next year I am old news, and do not attract any support, I will not hang around. I will do the honorable thing, like Sam Brownback did, and return home to those who care about me whether or not I have a dollar to my name. I now top 500 hits per day, approach 1000 hits per day, and whether that goes to 4000 per day or zero, it has been a thrilling experience.

Thank heavens this contest is over. There are republican Jewish brunettes on Jdate and at social events, and they are not going to get pregnant by themselves (I should consult Feministing or Angry Harry on this one, maybe they can).

Off to play football, eat red meat, and pursue the aforementioned ladies. On Sunday it is watching football, and only Monday will I return to politicking.

Of course, when I say politicking, I mean blogging, not campaigning for myself. Ick!





3 Responses to “Sam Brownback and Me”

  1. micky2 says:

    If you can come this far and be this succesful in just 8 months, imagine how big you’re going to be if you just keep doing what your doing.
    Bloggers choice awards or not, I think you should keep at it Eric .
    That hot Jewish woman was right , and I can only help but reinforce her statement that you have a message and a style worth spreading.
    Humbleness is good, but in this case you should minimize it for the simple fact that your message should be carried forward, if for any reason it would be a beautiful donation to our country.
    You never know who’s reading. And if you can inspire just one impressionable and unsure citizen to see the light, it will have the effect of paying it forward.
    I would be the perfect example.
    I can be very crass and convicting in my posts here and other blogs I post at,
    but since meeting you i have been inspired to be just a little more diplomatic and less spiteful.
    Some may not think so in my case. But in your case you are a class act and I want you to know that you set an example that I and others should follow.
    No doubt I fail often, but it would be worse had I never met you.

    Good job man.

  2. If you ever ‘retire’ from The Tygyrrrr Express let us know, we’ll keep a ‘spot open’ for you on Conclub if you ever want to join our blogging team there.

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